Photo of the Week
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Fire Island Life Saving Station, c. 1848
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Fire Island Life-Saving Station, with Lighthouse in Background, c. 1880s. (Image from Souvenir of Babylon and Fire Island booklet  in the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives.)
The first life-saving station on Fire Island was reportedly built in 1848, at the western end of the island, adjacent to the site of the first Fire Island Lighthouse. The second life-saving station was built at Moriches Inlet. By 1854, there were seven stations located at Fire Island, Point O’ Woods, Lone Hill, Blue Point, Bellport, Smith’s Point, and Forge River. These early life-saving stations were run entirely by volunteers. More than 700 ships were rescued off Fire Island between 1871 and 1915, when the newly created United States Coast Guard took control of the stations. In 1871, Congress appropriated money for paid crews at all life-saving stations, and in 1874, the Life Saving Stations Act required boat captains to report all shipwrecks.
Suggested Readings: Fire Island: 1650s-1980s, by Madeleine C. Johnson (Shoreland Press, 1983); Discovering Fire Island, by Bill Perry (National Park Service, 1978); Old Inlet: Fire Island, by Paul Stoutenburg (Author, 1979).
North Fork / South Fork / Shelter Island